Iron Man (song)
|Single by Black Sabbath|
|from the album Paranoid|
|Length||3:33 (Single version)
5:56 (Album version)
|Label||Warner Bros. (US/Canada)|
|Writer(s)||Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward|
|Black Sabbath singles chronology|
"Iron Man" is a song by British rock band Black Sabbath. It is taken from their second studio album, Paranoid, released in 1970. It was later included on their initial greatest hits compilation We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll (1976), as well as all subsequent greatest hits compilations; The single version was included on the Greatest Hits 1970-1978 album.
Writing and recording
Upon hearing the main guitar riff for the first time, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne remarked that it sounded "like a big iron bloke walking about". The title became "Iron Man", with Geezer Butler writing the lyrics around the title.
Butler wrote the lyrics as the story of a man who time travels into the future, and sees the apocalypse. In the process of returning to the present, he is turned into steel by a magnetic field. He is rendered mute, unable verbally to warn people of his time in the future and of the impending destruction. His attempts to communicate are ignored and mocked. This causes Iron Man to become angry, and drives his revenge on mankind, causing the destruction seen in his vision.
This was the second Black Sabbath single in the US, but it was not released as a single in Britain. It got very little radio play in the US, but developed a cult following, which led to enough sales to give it a chart position.
A new version was included on the 1998 Reunion album. It won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 2000.
Ozzy Osbourne recorded a new version of "Iron Man" for the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black. Osbourne also recorded a version with Busta Rhymes in 1998 for Busta Rhymes's album Extinction Level Event (Final World Front). The track was renamed "This Means War". The version with Busta Rhymes was included on the Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black II. On his 2001 song "Gets Me Through", Osbourne referenced the song in the line, "I'm not the Antichrist or the Iron Man".
Unlike the 1972 song "Iron Man" by Icarus, Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" bears no connection to the Marvel Comics superhero character Iron Man, which was created and first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39, March 1963, seven years prior to the song's publication. The song has since become associated with the character by fans of both; the popular 2008 film Iron Man, based on the comic books, features an instrumental rendition of "Iron Man" during the credits. The film's novelization goes on to also state that the song is Tony Stark's favorite, hence why he picked the title to baptize his superhero alter-ego. In the 2012 film The Avengers, set in the same continuity as the Iron Man films, Tony Stark is seen wearing a Black Sabbath shirt when not in the Iron Man armor, as a tribute to the band and song.
Mac Sabbath, a fast food-themed Black Sabbath tribute band, wrote a parody version of "Iron Man" entitled "Frying Pan". A live recording of the band performing the song went viral in late 2014 and was covered by international news sources, including MTV and Fox News.
Awards and accolades
- In 2000, almost 30 years after the original studio version was released, a live version of the song won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
- The song won spot number 317 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- The song was awarded the number 1 spot on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs in 2006.
- The song peaked at number 52 on The Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.
In other media
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- Sir Mix-a-Lot covered the song on his album, Swass. Music on the track was performed by Metal Church.
- Irish band Therapy? covered the song for the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album, Nativity in Black. Vocals on the track were provided by Ozzy Osbourne, who sang on the original.
- Kanye West samples the song on his song "Hell of a Life" on his album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
- Comedian Bob Rivers recorded a parody as the title track of his album, I Am Santa Claus.
- In the Marvel Comics universe, it is implied through retcon that Tony Stark named his superhero identity Iron Man after the song, as he claims he was a fan of the band as a child. The song itself is featured in the 2008 Marvel Studios film Iron Man (closing credits), its initial trailer and the video game tie-in. In reference to the song, Stark wears a Black Sabbath T-shirt throughout the crossover film The Avengers.
- A remixed version of the song by artist Junkie XL plays during some menus of the game, Forza Motorsport.
- It is featured in the 1999 movie Detroit Rock City.
- It is featured in the 2005 biographical movie Dogtown and Z-Boys.
- The song was mashed up with the song "What U Gon' Do" by Lil' Jon & the Eastside Boyz for DJ Vlad & Roc Raida's 2006/2007 mashup mixtape, Rock Phenomenon.
- Live performance of it was featured in the program Beat-Club.
- A shorter but faster cover version is featured in the 2005 music video game Guitar Hero.
- It is featured in the episode "For Better or Verse" of American TV series Beavis and Butt-Head. Also appears as an air guitar chant in the episode "Plate Frisbee" and the short "Frog Baseball".
- It is featured in the episode "That Wrestling Show" of American television period sitcom That '70s Show.
- It is featured in the episode "Bills are Made to be Broken" of the American animated sitcom King of The Hill.
- It is featured in the episode "The Deer Hunters" of the American television series Gilmore Girls.
- It is featured in the episode "Anthology of Interest I" of American animated science fiction sitcom Futurama.
- Wrestling tag team The Road Warriors used "Iron Man" as their entrance theme song while working in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
- The first guitar riff of the song is used in the character theme for Season 1 antagonist Takaoka in the anime Assassination Classroom
- Classic Albums - Paranoid, by Isis Productions/Eagle Rock Entertainment
- "BLACK SABBATH - FAQ version 2.0". Black Sabbath Online.
- "Iron Man — Black Sabbath —". Last.fm. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- Lutes, Alicia (December 28, 2014). "Yes, There's Really A McDonald's-Themed Metal Band Called Mac Sabbath". MTV News.
- "McDonald's-themed Black Sabbath cover band is creepy". Fox News. December 26, 2014.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
- Billboard Singles for Black Sabbath at AllMusic
- "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Samples)". Hypetrak.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18.